"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.X No.III Pg.5-9b
March 1948

Brother O. L. Castleberry's Article

Hugh M. Tiner, President George Pepperdine College

I want to thank the Bible Banner for the opportunity to see Brother O. L. Castleberry's article before it was printed so that I might reply in this issue of the paper. I have taken this criticism up with the men involved, (as is our policy) the Board of Trustees and some of the leading preachers of the church. Although many of my friends advised me not to reply, it was the consensus of opinion that an answer should be made to these charges. Naturally, much of this criticism was not new to us as we had been aware of it for sometime. I shall, therefore, answer Brother Castleberry's article giving what I know to be the facts. I shall say nothing in this reply on hearsay but shall state only those things I know to be true.

1. It is my sincere opinion that Brother Castleberry's interest in the "truth" about Pepperdine College grows out of a spirit of bitterness and antagonism. I believe this to be true because he has expressed such bitterness to me, to Bro. Pepperdine and to many others. He has said frequently that he has dedicated his life to fighting and opposing Pepperdine College. This being the case, we may expect articles on this subject from Brother Castleberry for sometime to come. He was on our campus in the fall of 1945 for about two months. Unless he has done so under cover, he has rarely or never been on the campus since then. If the conditions he described had been true and had since been changed, he would not know it.

2. Enrollment. The church is not strong on the West Coast although it is growing in a very gratifying way. This fall term the College had approximately 1500 students enrolled. Of that number 371 listed themselves as members of the church of Christ. Our total enrollment in 1940 was only 407. We have about 350 students in our dormitories, and of this number about sixty per sent are members of the church of Christ. Since our dormitory space is limited, the increase in enrollment has been largely local young people who wished to secure education in a Christian college, and since there are so few church of Christ young people in the Los Angeles vicinity, the increase has been from other young people. We have selected the off campus students carefully as to character and ability so as to keep a good atmosphere on our campus. We make no apology for the presence of these fine young people. On the contrary, we consider the opportunity to teach them the Bible (which is a required subject) and other subjects one of the greatest opportunities of our lives. We only wish we could accept hundreds more who would like to have the advantage of Christian education.

3. Pepperdine's Financial Support. It is true that Pepperdine is a private College reasonably well equipped and endowed; but this financial stability does not, we trust, affect our loyalty to the truth. In building this College we have not put the pleasing of men first. I do not believe we would have done so had we been financially dependent—at least I hope not—for we believe we should be true first of all to the will of God. Our College has achieved considerable recognition academically, in athletics, in speaking and debate, in fact, in all activities it has entered. We do not believe it is unchristian to do well whatever legitimate work one's hands find to do. We have tried to the best of our ability never to compromise right to achieve such recognition and we shall continue to do so in the future. We do intend to continue to do our best in everything we undertake.

4. Wickedness of Los Angeles and Hollywood Brother Castleberry is a little vague here. Los Angeles is a large and great city. Like other cities, and small towns too for that matter, there is much evil here and of course, much good. The truth must be taught clearly and forcefully everywhere, Los Angeles and Hollywood included, and we teach it that way. Young people must be carefully guided everywhere, and even then, their conduct will not always be exemplary. We take our share of responsibility to give our students such care and guidance. Patrons of our school have been almost unanimous in their praise of the guidance their children have received at Pepperdine College. (For examples of this praise see the college bulletin entitled, "A Blueprint for Character Building," published in April, 1945.) Of course, there have been mistakes and we have not always succeeded with all young people. We have never and do not now make claim to perfection, but we do make a sincere effort to do right and to correct mistakes.

5. As for Dean E. V. Pullias the facts about his life and work are well known in the brotherhood. He was reared in the church of Christ having obeyed the gospel as a boy. He has never been a member of any other religious group and to state or imply otherwise, as does Brother Castleberry, is a misrepresentation of the facts. He began teaching Bible school classes when he was attending David Lipscomb College in 1924 and has taught classes consecutively since that time. This teaching has largely been done, of course, in churches of Christ, but from time to time he has had opportunity to teach and speak about Christ in many places and under various circumstances: in colleges, in universities, before men and women's clubs, before civic groups, in denominational churches, in orphans homes, etc. —wherever he had a free hand to teach the full truth.

When he was in Durham, North Carolina, attending Duke University, the nearest congregation was at Winston-Salem about eighty miles away. He often went there. However, throughout this period his membership remained at his home congregation in Tennessee. The conservative Christian church (called Disciples of Christ) in Durham invited him to "join" them and to teach an adult class. He did not join them, which they fully understood, but accepted the opportunity to teach as he believed. This was agreed and for a period of time he taught this Bible class and a Bible class at the University, teaching the New Testament on all subjects, including the use of singing only in the worship. This teaching seemed to him at the time to be the best opportunity to proclaim the truth. As to the wisdom of the effort and as to the good that was done, God will judge.

The churches where he has taught classes over an extended period of time include David Lipscomb College, South Pittsburgh (Tennessee), Cornell Avenue (Chicago), the Central Church (Los Angeles), and the Vermont Avenue Church (Los Angeles). In the last ten years he has written regularly on a variety of subjects for the leading journals published by our brethren, including The Gospel Advocate and The Firm Foundation.

Although he is not a full-time preacher, he has preached for numerous congregations. In the past ten years he has spoken for the following congregations in Southern California at the request of their elders or leaders: Huntington Park, South Gate, Alhambra, Pasadena, Fillmore, Van Nuys, Eighteenth & G (San Diego), Hillcrest (San Diego), Birch and Fairview (Santa Ana), Broadway and Walnut (Santa Ana), in Los Angeles: East Los Angeles, Southwest, Central, 43rd and McKinley Avenue; Gardena, North Hollywood, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Inglewood, North Long Beach, Ninth & Lime (Long Beach), Central (Long Beach), El Monte, Arcadia, Redlands, Puente, Santa Paula, Compton, Whittier and perhaps others. Thus, his life and teachings are well known among the brethren.

8. Brother Ralph Wilburn. Brother Ralph Wilburn does have considerable training. Brother Castleberry is correct on this point. Brother Wilburn's doctor's degree is not in philosophy, as Brother Castleberry states, but is in religion, particularly in the history of religious thought. Brother Wilburn does not teach most of the graduate courses in religion at the present time, as Brother Castleberry states, but about one-fourth of them. There is no such thing as the Graduate School of Religion", as Brother Castleberry states, but the advanced work in religion is called the "Graduate Department of Religion". I do not wish to say that Brother Castleberry willfully misrepresented the above facts but frequently does not have all the facts before he writes his conclusions, as you will see amply illustrated as you read further on in this article

I have listened to Brother Wilburn preach regularly; I have talked with him in detail about his beliefs; I have talked to numerous students who have studied with him; I have been in conference with him when those who are critical of him were given the opportunity to ask him any questions they wished; and I have heard his answers. On the basis of this first-hand knowledge I know he believes and teaches all the fundamental truths of the New Testament, including the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, the reality of the miracles, the resurrection of Jesus, the atonement and the other great Christian beliefs. Surely this is not Modernism.

Brother Wilburn has respect for the great personalities of church history: Augustine, Luther, Zwingli, etc. etc. He recognizes the weakness of all men, but surely a student of church history is not called upon to condemn everything done and said by all the men from the post-apostolic age to 1804 in order to be a loyal Christian.

Brother Wilburn does not hold the premillennial position. He has made his position clear on this subject in an article in The Gospel Advocate. With regard to specific criticisms of Brother Wilburn, he will make his own statement on the points about which there has been rumor.

9. Cooperation with denominations. The implications of this whole section are false. Here are the facts: Previously when we did not use our auditorium so continuously as we now do, it was our policy to allow the use of the auditorium to any reputable community group as a good neighbor gesture. Sometimes the groups have been religious. As a rule, those accommodated have been of a civic nature. Now and then Dean Pullias has been requested to say a word of greeting to these groups. Sometimes some other official of the College has done so. On the occasion referred t by Brother Castleberry, a group of Scotchmen of the Greyfriars Scottish Church asked to have a Thanksgiving program in the auditorium and were given permission to do so. They requested that someone from the College extend a welcome. On this particular occasion Dean Pullias left the Vermont Avenue service where he was worshipping that evening a little early in order to say that the College was glad for its neighbors to use its building. The Dean reported an interesting old country program, including a beautiful display of fruit, music by a bag pipe band all dressed in kilts, a speech by the British Consul in Los Angeles, as well as the main speaker.

Such is the nature of Brother Castleberry's first case of "cooperation with denominations."

The second case is that of the "Sky Pilots of America." Here Brother Castleberry reaches his greatest height in misrepresenting the facts. I was not acquainted with this organization until I read of it in Brother Castleberry's article, but I am pleased to know that our auditorium has been used by this group of children. Brother Pepperdine tells me that it is an organization of boys between the ages of nine and twelve whose principal activity is making toy airplanes and a Bible study class. A group of these little boys under the supervision of a young minister and a mechanic, both members of the church of Christ, meet in the basement of Brother Pepperdine's home every week to make toy airplanes. So this is the second of Brother Castleberry's "cooperation with denominations"—a group of boys under the supervision of their leaders were given free use of the college auditorium for a program of fun and music. The fact that "Sky Pilot" groups have been formed by many denominational church people should not make the work wrong.

The third case is the matter of chapel speakers. Our policy has been as follows: Brother Pepperdine has Wednesdays as a day to bring a guest speaker. During the year he brings the leading men in the city to the campus--the mayor, business leaders, educators and others. Now and then there is a denominational preacher who has achieved eminence because of some great community service once we had the leading Jewish Rabbi in the City of Los Angeles who is very active in patriotic and civic matters, and I believe it was he who spoke of Jewish, Protestant and Catholic cooperation. It should be remembered that these cultural programs follow the worship and are separate from it. On Fridays we frequently have a religious speaker as a part of the worship and these speakers are, members of the church. Other days after a brief worship period there may be musical or other cultural programs. This arrangement may or may not be the best possible, but it hardly has anything to do with cooperation with denominations.

Finally, in this section Brother Castleberry's statement that athletic announcements consume far more time than teaching or preaching the gospel is simply another case of deceptive implication. We do not use the chapel period at all for preaching the Gospel in the sense he speaks of that is, to give a Gospel sermon on first principles, offer the invitation, etc. We believe the preaching of the Gospel in that sense is a function of the church and not of a college chapel. The college chapel is primarily a worship period for the college community as a business might have an hour of quiet or worship and a cultural period. We do not conceive of the college as an adjunct of the church through which the work of the church is done. We conceive of a college as an educational institution set in a Christian environment us a Christian business or a home might be.

That the chapel time is taken up disproportionately of announcements about athletics is simply another error in fact. Athletics struggles for its share of announcements among twenty or more other college activities.

8. 'The Graphic. The Graphic is our student paper. In any single issue probably from fifteen to thirty students contribute articles ranging from editorials and religious material to reviews of athletic events and of other activities in the city and in the nation. Now there is a difference of opinion as to how severely the student paper should be censured by the administration. The college bulletins are the official publications of the college and, of course, represent the official attitude of the administration and faculty. A student paper represents the opinions of the students, the faculty advisor seeing to it that the student opinion be within the limits of decency and good journalistic taste. He and other faculty members strive to guide student opinion so that it will be wise, balanced and in harmony with Christian principles. Of course, the faculty advisor has the power to forbid the publication of any student article and the administration might, 'if it considered it necessary, suspend the student paper.

Some things, such as those listed by Brother Castleberry, have 'appeared in the Graphic due to lack of adequate supervision that should not have appeared. Brother Castleberry calls attention to twenty-one items appearing in twenty-one issues of the Graphic as being objectionable. We also feel that many of these items were objectionable and should not have been printed. However, during the years of 1944, 1945, 1946 and 1947 the student body published approximately 120 issues consisting of four pages each. When one considers that only twenty-one items out of 120 issues have been singled out as objectionable, one can see that the number of mistakes which have been made are very small. We have improved this situation. The lack of proper supervision had been noted by the Policy Committee of the College as well as the administration for some time. Additional staff members have been added so as to guarantee closer supervision and thus bring mistakes of this kind to a minimum. We regret that we did not make this change sooner. However, the paper is still written and published by students, and if a person covers each issue with a fine comb looking for faults, he will likely find some. The items about entertainment quoted were not "advertisements", as he states. The paper has never taken that sort of advertising. The items referred to were a mixture of student opinion and quotations and were taken from a column in a local paper by a student who was reviewing happenings in the entertainment world in the city. Since some might be influenced by the column, it should have been supervised more closely.

Reference is made to a list of entertainment places which appeared in a student handbook published by the student organization of the College. The students and faculty advisor who published this handbook simply took a list of places of interest presented by the Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles and put it in the handbook. Shortly after the handbook appeared someone called our attention to the fact that there were places listed that it would not be wise to recommend. We appreciated this criticism and would have revised the list had the handbook been republished after the mistake was detected.

We regret that the play, "Wary Quarry," was given and believe a more acceptable play should have been selected. However, we are happy that very few plays have been criticized during the existence of Pepperdine College. It is quite difficult to obtain plays that are not objectionable in part to some people since they do treat with life's problems and experiences, both good and bad. We strive to select those plays that are entertaining, wholesome and instructive.

9. Dancing at Pepperdine. As all know, the problem of dancing is a very serious one in modern life, even among the churches. A considerable proportion of young people coming from church of Christ homes have danced with the knowledge and encouragement of their parents previous to coming to college. This situation means that these young people will likely continue to engage in this activity when they go back home or when they visit with their friends. It should be clearly understood by all that George Pepperdine College is opposed to dancing. There has never been any dancing on its campus sanctioned by it or as a part of its program, and it is not our plan that there shall be in the future.

As to the reference in Brother Castleberry's article to the folk games classes, probably most informed people know that nearly all colleges have classes in folk games composed of numerous folk activities, such as "Skip to my Lou," "Drop the Handkerchief," "Pig in the Middle," and various other child games. The purpose of the course is, chiefly, to prepare. elementary school teachers to lead children in such activities on playgrounds and wherever they may have responsibility for their supervision. It has been our policy from the very beginning to require decent and appropriate dress for our students. When they are engaged in gymnastic activity and active games, they dress in gym clothes. On the campus and at other places where such clothing would be inappropriate, they do not wear them. I do not mean that some student may not now and then appear dressed in a way that we would not approve, but I am speaking of the policy of the College, and when an individual case arises, we deal with that individually.

Also it should be pointed out that there is a wide difference of opinion among sincere people as to what dress is 'appropriate. Some people are opposed to any gym clothes for any purpose.

The reference again to the so-called "advertisements" in the Graphic are taken from a student column in which the student was speaking about various entertainment activities in the city. I have covered that in another connection.

10. Lord's Day at Pepperdine. It has been our consistent policy supported both by the administration and the student organization that there should be no social occasions on Lord's Day unless adequate and properly supervised provisions were made for worship. Oftentimes groups of our students make a trip to the mountains or to other places of natural beauty on Sunday taking along one of the faculty members who leads them in a worship service and they have a day of fellowship together. Of course, our students may engage in activities on Lord's Day that we do not approve. More than 800 of our students live off campus and they are at home over the week ends, but they understand our position and policy about respect for the Lord's Day.

11. Personal Work on Campus. Anyone wishing to know the facts about the incident which Brother Castleberry refers to concerning Brother Otis Gatewood's class in personal evangelism can, I am sure, secure them from Brother Gatewood. For the record here they are: Brother Gatewood had a good class in personal work and also another group in college who were interested in learning to do personal work. After conferring with the leading faculty members on campus and many ministers of mature judgment, it was decided that it would not be wise for this group of boys and girls to attempt to do personal work on a college campus until they had had somewhat more experience. It was suggested that they do their practicing work in the community under the supervision of some church where they would be less likely to do harm. On a college campus such as ours numerous of the faculty members are discussing religious problems with students constantly and they did not feel that they would like for their work to be interfered with by a group of enthusiastic, well meaning boys and girls who had not had much experience in personal religious work.

It is a simple falsehood that Dean Pullias or any other official at the College has taken the attitude that we do not care about making improvements. Our sole ambition is to make the College better and better, and we are pleased to receive constructive criticism from any source. We have taken the position that any student who is very unhappy, disgruntled and soreheaded in general at the College would be wise to transfer to another institution. We continue to take that position.

12. Endorsements of the Castleberry Article. It should be noted that the endorsements quoted by Brother Castleberry are single sentences taken from the letters of the brethren mentioned which in most cases qualify the endorsements.

We have a large institution and we are constantly striving to improve it. We receive many criticisms and suggestions for improvement from many sources and we strive constantly to profit from these suggestions. All of these suggestions and criticisms are constantly being analyzed by myself and the Dean, as well as by the men involved and the Board of Trustees. It is our aim and ambition to make of this institution the very best instrument for the helping of young people that it can be. We ask for the prayers, suggestions and help of all sincere Christian people.